Dance Around The World – Cusco, Perú
Next stop on my “Dance Around The World” adventure, Perú! For years I’ve been wanting to visit Perú to see Machu Picchu. I guess it stemmed from my Mom, a history teacher and enthusiast. Seriously, she’s a walking book of world history. Or possibly it came from my desire to see the all wonders of the world. Either way, Machu Picchu was on my list. I wasn’t counting seeing any dance, but little did I know I would experience a true Peruvian cultural dance experience, Carnival!
On the way to Machu Picchu, we stopped in the city of Cusco. After a 22 hour bus ride through the mountains and mudslides, it’s the perfect place to chill while your body tries to adjust to the altitude. Cusco is a big city for being so high up in the mountains. Its city center is booming with history, markets, tourists, and travel agencies.
Following a day of trip planning, ticket buy, and catching up on sleep, I finally had some time to explore the city. It was an overcast Sunday, but it didn’t stop the locals or the tourists. The sidewalks were filled with people selling food, toys, rain ponchos, and (from what I could only gather) silly string from wheel barrels. I though why is everyone trying to sell me this silly string!? I saw a few kids spraying each other and realized it was actually foam. That’s when it started…
The street began to clear of cars and people lined the street looking as if they were waiting for something. It was a parade! Groups of dancers in brightly colored costumes began dancing down the street with their own personal band. At certain locations, the group would pause and perform a two minute dance. Each dance seemed to have a prop such as a hat, stick, rope, or scarf. Even though the dances were different, they each stuck to the same formation. They would start in a line, transformed into a circle, and back into a line again. At the end of each performance, the crowd would cheer and clap. Then intermittently a local would run forward spraying the dancers and onlookers with foam. That’s when I was really kicking myself for only having 25% battery left in my camera!
I filmed as much as possible before my camera went dead. But, my husband and I watched for about an hour in the cold and rain. Eventually we were initiated into the whole Carnival experience too. A few children saw our excitement as we watched the dance and laughed at them for getting sprayed with foam. That’s when they went after us. Soon we were completely covered in white, blue, pink and purple foam. So we laughed and chased each other down the street and made the most of the day. As we walked away from the festivities, reminiscing, and laughing at each other, even the local adults gave us a nod. They would just give us a little laugh and would say “Carnival” with a gigantic smile across their faces. For the first time in a while, I didn’t feel like a tourist.
Even though I didn’t get to take a class while in Perú, I will always cherish that day in Cusco. During the parade, I watched 20 different dance troupes perform traditional Peruvian folk dances. As I watched, clapped, and tapped my feet to the music, I felt at home and totally involved with the dance and the people. What a truly amazing adventure I’m having… I can’t believe how lucky I am to have stumbled upon dance once again.
Finding dance everywhere,
The Offbeat Ballerina
Join me for my next post as I discover dance in Buenos Aires!